State Press football reporter Danny Shapiro caught up with ASU defensive coordinator Paul Randolph, who discussed the Notre Dame game, the emergence of redshirt junior safety Damarious Randall and the challenges of covering Colorado junior receiver Paul Richardson:
State Press: After the Notre Dame game, Coach Graham said the defense played good enough to win. Do you agree with him?
Paul Randolph: No doubt there are some things we could have done better. We dropped two interceptions, and our whole deal is that we want to be opportunistic about that and we want takeaways. We thrive on getting takeaways and getting the ball back to our offense, so naturally, missing those two opportunities were big. We played well enough to win at times, but at times we did not, so we’ve got to eliminate the times we aren’t playing at our maximum potential as a unit.
SP: Did you see the emergence of Damarious Randall coming? Graham admitted he wasn’t even sure Randall was going to start against Notre Dame.
PR: One thing about Damarious is that he was banged up in camp and missed a million reps that would have progressed him a whole lot faster, but he’s been a sponge just soaking in everything coach Ball has been teaching. He got his feet wet a little the week before against USC, and then this week he worked his tail off in practice, and it showed in the game. Seventeen tackles in the course of the game, I couldn’t have told you that, but there’s no question he made a lot of solid tackles and did a lot of things a safety had to do.
SP: Do you think your defense has a golden opportunity against Colorado to make strides against the run? The Buffaloes average only 3.11 yards per rush and don’t have a rushing touchdown through four games.
PR: Colorado knows what they want to do, and they can do it. They have a great scheme and system and know how to run the football. I think they will try and use the perimeter run on us, where we’ve struggled, so I don’t see them try to deviate from that. For us, I think if we get ourselves lined up and fit like we are supposed to and tackle, we will have a really good showing at stopping the run this week.
SP: How concerned are you with the lack of pressure on the quarterback so far this season?
PR: I’m not really concerned, because we knew coming in that the early teams we were going to play believe in protecting and max protecting. They will protect six, seven, maybe eight guys and when we rush only four or six against eight, you’re not going to win that. They know who they are and they executed what they do. For us, naturally going into this stretch, things will be more spread so we feel like we will end up picking up in those areas.
SP: Can you talk about the challenge of facing a guy like Paul Richardson? His one-handed catch against Oregon last week was pretty sweet.
PR: Looking at him on film, he’s extremely dangerous. He’s a big-play threat, he can catch the ball and he can get open down the field. He uses his body to get up against the defensive backs, and I think he’s a big time receiver. We have to do a magnificent job of knowing where he is on the field and what routes he’s running.
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